JAPANESE CINEMA NEWS 2008
His new project as director is an adaptation by scriptwriter Takuji Suzuki of Kiwa Irie's manga NONCHAN NORIBEN, published by Kondasha between 1995 and 1998. NONCHAN NORIBEN tells the story of Komaki Nagai, a troublesome 31 years old divorced mother who returns with her 5 years old daughter Noriko to her hometown in the traditional neighbourhood of Kyojima, downtown Tokyo. Without any kind of qualifications or job experience, she will try to make a radical change in her life by opening a small restaurant, Totoya, in the neighbourhood. NONCHAN NORIBEN had already been adapted for the small screen by TBS, the first series broadcast between 3 February and 28 March 1997 and the second between 1 June and 31 July 1998. The cast and the release date are not confirmed yet.
After a series of award-winning short films, her definite break into the Japanese film world came with her 10 minutes long teenage drama SHIN KOKO KARA NO NAGAME (Visible From Here), which was awarded the Jury Special Award in the Pia Festival 2004. Last year, Iwata returned to the world of adolescents to direct her first feature film, LEMON NO KORO (The Graduates), based on a novel by Miho Toshima.
Her next project is again based on a novel, Takami Ito's bestseller YUBIWA O HAMETAI. The novel tells the story of a 29 years old man who has sworn to himself that he will get married before his next birthday. Just as his deadline gets closer, he spends three months salary on a wedding ring and gets ready for a marriage proposal. However, before this happens, he has a nasty fall in a skating rink and loses his memory. The man faces now one of the most difficult challenges in his life as, before the accident, he had been secretly dating three different women and now he can't remember who his fiancée was.
After more than 10 years of RUBBER'S LOVE's release, his last Hone Kobo's production, controversial director and scriptwriter Shozin Fukui returns with a new film titled SEPUKU (The Hiding), with the help of producer Shu Kageyama and his project Over 8. SEPUKU starts with Narumi (Makiko Mizote) having just left her job after being stalked by her ex-boyfriend Shinichi (Eitaro Tomori) and moving into a new place. As a result of this experience, Narumi suffers from psychological problems and alcoholism. A certain day, a mysterious woman named Aiko (Neo Akitsu), breaks into Narumi's apartment, keeping her captive and treating her violently. Aiko also has the power to read minds.
SEPUKU will be shown at Tokyo's Cinema Artone between 5 May and 6 June, along with a new version of ONNE, a previous straight-to-DVD work, that has been retitled DERARENAI. This film tells the story of Aiko, a hikikomori, who hasn't left her room in 3 years. Her visits to a website hosted by Takeshi become her only kind of entertainment. After news of a gas attack in Tokio spread through the Internet and the number of victims increases drastically, Aiko, worried about Takeshi's situation, post a message on his blog but gets no immediate reply. DERARENAI is starred by Makiko Mizote, Chikara Ito, Chisa Fukuyama, Yasunari Kawabata and Kentaro Nakamura.
The shooting of a film version of the popular bicycle racing manga Shakariki! Run for tomorrow!, created by Soda Masahito, is due to start before this summer. Shakariki! Run for tomorrow! was published in 18 volumes between 1992 and 1995 by Shukan Shonen Champion, and tells the story of the rivalry between two young up-and-coming cyclists, last year junior high students Teru and Yuta. This new Sports Seishun Eiga (Youth Film) joins a recent list of films based on mangas and novels with stories about young sportsmen and women such as BATTERY, directed by Yojiro Takita from the novel by Atsuko Asano, ROUGH directed by Kentaro Otani from the manga by Mitsuru Adachi and TOUCH, based on a manga by the same author directed by Isshin Inudo. More recently, another Sports Seishun Eiga has been released, NAOKO, based on the manga by Nobuhiro Sakata and Yu Nakahara and adapted for the big screen by Tomoyuki Furumaya. The cast of Shakariki! is yet to be officially announced.
Last November a literary contest for primary schoolchildren was held in the city of Kawasaki to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that city's Cinecitta cinema. The winning work would then be adapted for the big screen by director Kaizo Hayashi and shown at Cinecitta. The first prize was given to the story OJI-SAN KOEN NO HIMITSU by 10 years old 4th grade primary student Mitsunori Kato. The script was then elaborated jointly by Kato-kun himself and director Kaizo Hayashi. With this idea the filmmaker wanted to preserve the story's imagination from the kid's point of view. The shooting, carried out with digital cameras, took place during the past Christmas holiday and the duration of film is of about 30 minutes. Actor Shiro Sano played the role of the title's oji-san. Its release is expected for March and there is a great change of this being free of charge.
2006 was a very impressive year for commercial films in Japan as it was the first time in 21 years that local films had beaten foreign ones at the box office. Even more, six Japanese films managed to surpass the ¥5 billion barrier and five of these featured in the top ten at the Japanese box office. Last year only two works grossed more than ¥5 billions, HERO and GEKIJO-BAN POCKET MONSTERS DIAMOND & PEARL DIALGA VS PALKIA VS DARKRAI. However, HERO, with more than ¥8 billions at the box office, surpassed last year's local hit GEDO SENKI (Tales from Earthsea, ¥7.65 billions), and five local films were once again included in the top ten most grossing films of 2007. Still waiting for more news of HERO's performance at the box office, this could turn up to be the 10th most grossing Japanese film of all time.